Pope Francis makes UNPRECEDENTED change to midnight mass amid Italy coronavirus chaos | World | News


The earlier time means the service will be timed to comply with Italy’s current 10pm curfew. In normal times, the midnight mass is not conducted at midnight as its name might suggest, but at 9:30pm.

This year, the service is due to start at 7:30pm with the aim of allowing the limited number of attendants to get home before the curfew begins.

Midnight mass is a Christian tradition that sees followers gather on Christmas eve for a service.

The service can sometimes indeed start just before midnight, but often Churches conduct it earlier out of convenience.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis’ other appointments leading into next year have also been confirmed.

These include his Christmas speech and blessing which takes place at noon on December 25.

According to Vatican News, in-person participation in these events is due to be very limited.

READ: Pope Francis gives blessing to same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis has reportedly been vocal throughout the year in encouraging people to follow government coronavirus measures.

In April, he praised front-line workers such as doctors and shop staff as well as priests as “heroes”.

Last week, Italy revealed tough new Covid-19 restrictions for the Christmas and New Year period including the aforementioned 10pm curfew.

In recent days the country hit a record number of daily deaths from the virus.

Steps to limit virus spread in the country include a ban on travelling between towns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.

People are also being urged not to invite any guests to their homes over the festive season.

And this week travel site SchengenVisaInfo reported cross-border train services between Italy and Switzerland could be suspended amid a lack of staff required to carry out Covid-19 checks.

Despite the restrictions, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte insisted Christmas this year would be “no less authentic,” though he noted it would be “different from the others”.

He also warned the rules are intended to prevent a third wave of infections that he said could hit in January.

The sentiment was echoed by the country’s health minister Roberto Speranza, who said on Wednesday last week: “If we drop our guard now, the third wave is just around the corner,” according to The Guardian.

Italy was one of the worst-hit countries by Covid-19 in the early stages of the global outbreak this year.

It currently has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, with 62,626 fatalities at the time of writing. The UK has the highest death toll in Europe with 73,125.

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